For Ross Chua music has been a way to meet a variety of people and make some of his closest friends. He finds music magical and, at times, challenging. He almost always finds it satisfying.
“My favorite aspect of music is the way it naturally vitalizes a community experience,” said Chua, a 2016 graduate of Batavia High School and that year’s recipient of the John Mikulski Career Music Scholarship from the Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators Association.
“I am constantly seeking opportunities to connect with people, and often those overlap with music opportunities,” said Chua, the son of David and Allison Chua.
Ross Chua is featured this week in the Association’s virtual concert series, which began six weeks ago.
Chua, a baritone singer and multi-instrumentalist, performs an entertaining cover of Rick Astley’s chart-topping “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Chua’s interpretation of the pop song includes an original rap.
The nearly four-minute video – made at least partially on the Zoom video conferencing platform – finds Chua’s expressive eyes showing surprise, seriousness, and some playfulness. He is seen playing a ukulele, drums, guitar, a pocket trump – on which he solos – and, briefly, a slide whistle.
Chua, whose first instrument was a violin in first grade and who has been humming ever since he was born, earned his bachelor of music degree in music composition from Syracuse University. He has continued on toward a master of music in audio sound – while keeping an eye toward a future that will fulfill his desire to collaborate with other musicians as much as possible.
“The career paths I think are most conducive to that are working at a recording studio and managing a performance venue,” Chua said. “Both career paths seem like promising sources of social interaction.”
That interaction has been a big draw to Chua, who wrote a seven-minute symphony as a high school senior that was performed and recorded by the Genesee Symphony Orchestra. Chua used the recording as part of the college audition process.
“I have come to know such a vast array of humans throughout my time both in Batavia and Syracuse, and I am blessed to have spent time with so many wonderful friends and colleagues,” he said.
One of his favorite musical experiences was his first tour with Syracuse’s University Singers. It was the fall of his sophomore year, his first semester with the group. They performed for the National Collegiate Choral Organization Conference in New Orleans.
“It was incredibly exciting to tour the city and take in the rich musical culture of the area, and this was made even better by being able to share the experience with some of my closest friends,” Chua said. “Perhaps the most impactful part of the trip, though, was our final performance at the conference. We had prepared some intense repertoire, including Francis Poulenc’s ‘Sept Chanson,’ which was especially difficult. … the work ethic of the choir was palpable, and the culmination of our work performing for the NCCO is something that still fills me with immense pride.
“It was a powerful reminder of how satisfying singing can be,” he said, “especially when you challenge yourself and work to meet that challenge, and you collaborate with people you respect and admire.”
Among the influences Chua cited are Andrew Huang, a producer and YouTuber who Chua said “has an insanely massive body of work, both in variety and sheer quantity of releases.”
“He also has been a part of many collaborations, small scale and large scale, with other musicians and YouTubers,” Chua said.
Chua noted that Huang’s mission statement is simply “make music everywhere.”
“I aspire to have his commitment,” Chua said.
Chua has participated in several choirs at Syracuse. He was music director of his tenor/bass a cappella group, Orange Appeal, which performed last fall at Richmond Memorial Library in Batavia.
“It was really fun to have my college life and my home life cross paths,” said Chua, who was salutatorian of his graduating class and recipient of a Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation scholarship.
In high school, he had many musical pursuits, including high school orchestra, piano, jazz ensemble, chorus and barbershop quartette. He also appeared in high school plays and sang with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s Festival High School Chorale.
Chua wants to continue being involved with vocal groups.
“There’s something magical about creating music using nothing but what God gave you,” Chua said.
The GWMEA is celebrating the talent of high school musicians and recent alumni in a series of social media performances.
The John Mikulski Career Music Scholarship is awarded to two students each year who desire to pursue a career in music. Each year, students interested in the scholarship audition in front of a panel of judges and complete an interview process.
Previous performances in the GWMEA series have included guitarist Lowell Chamberlain of Alexander, flutist Lydia Geiger of Batavia and singers Andrea Gilebart of Batavia, Nicholas Allen of Alexander and trumpeter Elise Hoerbelt of Batavia.
Performances are posted across the GWMEA’s social media platforms, including Facebook (@GWMEA), Instagram (@gwmeamusic) and Twitter (@gwmea).
The videos will also be available Thursdays on thedailynewsonline.com.
The GWMEA, which includes 11 schools in Genesee and Wyoming counties, works to enhance students’ musical experiences through solo and ensemble opportunities.
The goal of the online performances is to recognize the student musicians while also creating educational opportunities for viewers.